Thursday, November 8, 2012

Is There A Roosevelt Island Emergency Preparedness Response Plan? Answer Is Yes But It Is A Secret, Don't Worry Because There Is A Natural Disaster Plan That May Be Made Public We're Told

Roosevelt Island emergency preparedness was the subject of a question asked by Roosevelt Island Residents Association (RIRA) Common Council Member Ethel Fromm during the November 3, RIRA sponsored Meet The RIOC/RIRA Candidate Forum. The answer we learned from Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC) Board Director Margie Smith is that there is an emergency preparedness plan.

Ms. Smith reported that Roosevelt Island has the resources to evacuate with the Red and NYC Bus to designated areas. If that is not sufficient, Ms. Smith added that there are water transportation evacuation plans using barges, ferries and even the Circle Line.

Former RIRA President Matt Katz noted that he had seen the plan but was bound by a non-disclosure agreement not to reveal the contents of the plan. Ms. Smith explained the reason for the secrecy being that the US Homeland Security Department does not want the Roosevelt Island emergency plan made public due to security concerns but Ms. Smith added that she thinks that the plan dealing with natural disasters, such as Hurricane Sandy, can be released.

Image of Hurricane Sandy Wave Pounding Roosevelt Island Lighthouse Park From Adib Mansour

Image of Hurricane Sandy Flooding Roosevelt Island West Promenade From Brian Dorfmann

New RIRA President Ellen Polivy said that suggestions have been made to Cornell NYC Tech (and Cornell is considering) that the design of their new campus include plans to "Shelter In Place" for the Roosevelt Island community in the event it becomes necessary in a future emergency.

Here's the Candidate's Forum discussion of Roosevelt Island Emergency Preparedness.

More on Roosevelt Island Emergency Preparedness from previous post.


Frank Farance said...

I, like others, question Ms. Smith's claim that RIOC has a viable evacuation plan. Mr. Katz, Mr. Polivy (now a RIOC Board member, and heads RI CERT), and I all signed RIOC's non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) so that we could review the plans. The NDA was/is necessary because there are elements that can't be made public, e.g., if it were revealed that all the spare flashlights and batteries were in a storage box on the Queens side of the RI bridge (which they're not), then people might pilfer the supplies.

However, other aspects can be discussed publicly, such as our impressions: the RIOC plans have little details in execution, they have not been reviewed recently with other entities (e.g., managing agents, hospitals) that would need coordinate with them (because Mr. Guerra has stopped quarterly emergency management meetings years ago), and MOST IMPORTANTLY RIOC's evacuation plans have never been drilled or tested.

Many of us have requested RIOC schedule a drill to test some parts of the plans. As an example of one of several kinds of drills: What would it take to evacuate a portion of a single building via a drill? The reason these drills are so important is that we can get feedback on how well the plans might work in a real disaster. RIOC buses hold about 60 people when full packed, there are 7 buses available, and it takes about 60 minutes round trip to Queens Plaza (main evacuation area). That will take about 30 hours *continuously* to evacuate 12,000 people ... assuming everything goes perfect with maximum efficiency. Still that's not fast enough.

We have severe congestion problems on Roosevelt Island. Moving 3000-4000 people off the Island at the July 4 celebration produced massive traffic jams, police cars were unable to pass, it took several hours for this to clear (see picture below of Main Street jammed, and police cars trapped).

Also add two hospitals. Previously, we estimated about 24-36 for hospitals to evacuate, which competes with other Island traffic.

Oh yeah, and if Roosevelt Island (which is Zone B) is evacuating, then everyone else on both sides of the East River is evacuating, too. None of the traffic management problems have been addressed, none have been drilled, and RIOC is reluctant to update its plans.

Years ago, I mentioned that we need something High Volume like the Circle Line to help with evacuation on short notice. But that also requires RIOC to do some planning and contractual work so that the Circle Line is ready when we call (as far as I know, RIOC has not done this kind of preparation).

Some storms arrive very quickly, like Hurricane Hanna (around Labor Day 2008) which was in Virginia at 4 AM and arrived in NYC at 10 AM. We've been lucky with Irene and Sandy that they were slow moving, but other hurricanes come quickly, so 24 hours notice might be all we have.

In summary, the overall problem is that RIOC has spent little effort on Island-wide emergency preparation (as evidenced by Mr. Guerra's lack of meetings, and lack of drills with RI CERT), and RIOC is reluctant to have test drills to calibrate and adapt its plans. The back of an envelope shows that Ms. Smith's red bus plan won't work. Evacuating Roosevelt Island is a complex process that shouldn't wait until the day before to think about solving problems ... it's too late at that point and people might die.

JimmyLaRoche said...

Who needs rioc or any coordination, when the answer man himself, you have it all figured out.

I noticed you took a jab at psd slightly with chief/director guerra.

Good try, we all caught that.

I wonder what else is up your slivery sleeve.

I think it disprespectful not calling him by his title, that alone shows your hate.

CheshireKitty said...

Let's hope Zone B in NYC never completely floods - since it would mean the displacement of millions. The City and State have to address and let the people know what would happen if a flood went to Zone B - it would take out vast areas of Queens, Brooklyn, even a good portion of Manhattan, and of course all of RI. Would the plan be for folks in high-rises to stay put and wait for the floodwaters to recede - so they would not necessarily be evacuated although they would be sure to lose power - while those in one- or two-family houses clear out because of the possibility of drowning. Could the high-rises withstand inundation - still be structurally OK afterwards - just as the subway and vehicle tunnels seem to be OK even though they were flooded. I just don't want to be in my RI building if and when it ever crumbles into the waves sort of like a modern-day Atlantis.. We should be told if there is a possibility that this could happen because in that case many will want to simply leave and find a place to live on higher ground.

Frank Farance said...

Yes, we will be without power, but we'll also be without running water and sewage, too ... according to the OEM presentation a couple years ago. Also, there won't be anyone to rescue us during the storm.

As for the high rises withstanding the water, each cubic yard of water weighs about a ton, so that's a lot of force pushing on buildings. It depends upon the speed and the height of the water.

Here's a quick summary of the Evacuation Zones, see "":

- Zone A - Potential flooding from any hurricane.
- Zone B - Potential flooding from a Category 2+ hurricane.
- Zone C - Potential flooding from a Category 3-4 hurricane hitting just south of NYC.

Note: The hurricane map for *Sandy* explained the zones *specific* to Sandy's projected strength, see Hurricane Evacuation Shelter map (""):

- Zone A: Residents in Zone A face the highest risk of flooding from a hurricane's storm surge

- Zone B: Residents in Zone B can expect a moderate likelihood of evacuation if a hurricane is expected to reach NYC
- Zone C: Residents in Zone C can expect a low likelihood of evacuation if a hurricane is expected to reach NYC

Obviously, the above legend is specific to Sandy because it was a Category 1 Hurricane.

In summary, a Category 2 or higher hurricane will probably mean evacuation for Roosevelt Island.

Frank Farance said...

Mr. LaRoche, you'll see in the video that Mr. Katz talks about the lack of Chief Guerra's convening meetings (past the 5 minute mark), but Ms. Smith, who is a member of the RIOC Board's Operations Committee, doesn't come to his rescue.

Mr. LaRoche, you just seem to be blindly boosting PSD without acknowledging legitimate criticism.

Had Mr. Guerra convened these quarterly meetings, Octagon residents (via their managing agent) might have had more/coordinated help from their neighboring developments. After the storm, I ran into Thelma McIntosh, who works for MP management. I mentioned this kind of collaborative effort that might help Octagon and she was all for it ... she mentioned that MP works closely with the WIRE buildings' staff, but she had yet to meet Octagon's staff.

Why are you against better coordination and collaboration among the residential buildings, and better coordination among them with RIOC?

CheshireKitty said...

We've since heard RI will be placed into Zone A. If so, we do need to find out from RIOC what is the evacuation plan as well as what RIOC would do to help residents who have no intention of leaving, even if the electricity is out.

Anonymous said...

Excellеnt, ωhat a ωebpаge it is! This wеbρage gives helpful ԁata to us, κeeρ it up.

my homepagе; herbal incense smoke blends